Archive for August, 2009

Steve Rubel, SVP and Director of Insights for Edelman Digital, and Angela LoSasso, US Social Media/Social Networking Manager at HP, discuss the future of the Social Web.  I took a couple of things in particular from this discussion.  Steve discusses an important distinction between the insider’s and outsider’s view of social media.  While technology insider’s readily adopt new social media tools, such as Twitter, the outsider’s uptake can be much slower.  Utility isn’t a given, and when one’s personal social circle is comprised primarily of other such outsider’s, new social media technologies aren’t likely to seem particularly important.  I think this is an important lesson for technology insider’s who are trying to coax reluctant businesses into the social media pool. 

Angela LoSasso offers yet another example of the importance of listening when it comes to social media participation by businesses.  While many businesses are chomping at the bit to turn social media tools into new marketing channels, some of the most important benefits are gained from just being there.  Monitoring social media conversations is a great way to gauge the pulse of consumers, to discover unmet needs, and to inform the product innovation process.



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Facebook Connect - Usage Statistics

Interactive marketer Ken Burbary suggests 5 reasons companies should be integrating social media with Facebook Connect.  Highlights include:

Increased Registration – Data from Facebook states that sites that use Facebook Conect as an alternate to account registration have seen a 30-300% increase in registration on their sites.

Increased Site Traffic – After implementation, Facebook.com immediately begins sending web site traffic your way. Data from Facebook says that for each story published in Facebook, companies see roughly 3 clicks back to the site.  Nearly half the stories in the News Stream get clicked on. This creates opportunities for the site to encourage more user actions – knowing that each one may result in 3 new visits to their site.

Increased Engagement – Facebook users are used to being social. They are an active group, participating, sharing, and generating more content. Sites with Facebook Connect see a 15-100% increase in reviews. Connected users create 15-60% more content than users who have not connected with Facebook Connect.

Improved User Experience – Facebook Connect offers users qualitative benefits too. No new site registration is required, simply login using your Facebook credentials. It also makes it easy to share with an existing network of friends or family by publishing activities to the Facebook Newsfeed, with only a couple clicks of the mouse. No typing or emailing required. Given the sheer size of Facebook’s active user base, this type of integration with an individual’s personal network could ultimately become the new “email a friend” feature found on websites worldwide.

Access to 250 million Online Consumers – At the end of the day, companies need to fish where the fish are. And right now, the fish are spending their time on Facebook.com (5 billion minutes a day globally). Opening up a direct pathway from your site to Facebook gives you access, albeit indirectly through your user’s activities, to an entirely new set of people. And for practically no out of pocket cost.


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Interactive marketer Adam Kmiec fires this salvo across the social media bow:

“It needs to be said.  It has to be said.  Someone has to be the person that says the truth.  And since we won’t be hearing it from the so called social media experts of the world, I’ll say it: Social Media Is About Money, Not Relationships.  There, I said it.  You can hate me if you want, or claim I don’t get ‘it,’ but the truth remains the same.  Social media is about money.”

Well, I don’t hate you, Adam, but I will say it: you don’t get.  Although you can boil anything a business does down to a bottom-line interest in making money, that kind of simplistic reductionism isn’t really very helpful.  If you go into a meeting with decisionmakers and attempt to sell them on a social media initiative from a purely bottom-line perspective, you’re not going to get very far.  The ROI for social media campaigns isn’t necessarily as easily quantified as traditional marketing approaches on traditional channels.  The positive benefits of customer engagement through social media channels – enhanced reputation, consumer-led innovation, lead generation, word-of-mouth recommendations, and yes, relationships – are sometimes intangible, and at the very least may require a timeline for evaluation that extends well beyond that of typical ROI metrics.  Yes, these are benefits because they ultimately impact the corporate bottom-line, but in a world where results are measured in terms of quarterly performance, convincing corporate leaders to think in longer terms requires a lot more than a discussion about money.  To understand the value of social media in comparison to other media opportunities, the discussion must necessarily veer away from a strictly bottom-line discussion of money and onto the plane of more ethereal advantages, like building relationships by engaging and empowering consumers.

I’d take this a step further by suggesting that your hypothetical conversation with a decisionmaker should probably begin by discussing the ways in which social media has fundamentally altered the marketing and brand image game, such that the old model assumptions of unidirectional communication, message control, and audience passivity no longer apply.  Social media is an inevitability, and brands are part of the social media space, whether they like it or not.  People are talking about products – those they like and those they hate – and brands can choose to ignore that reality or figure out how to be a part of the conversation.  If you really want to make an impression on reticent decisionmakers, I think pushing the conversation in this direction is a much better idea.


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